My Lips are Sealed


What first comes to mind when you hear the words, “My lips are sealed.”? Do you wonder what juicy story is hiding behind those lips? Would it generate a sudden interest that you must satisfy? Maybe you could pry open those lips and grab hold of the story? “My lips are sealed,” suggests intrigue, even mystery. Who knows? There might be a best-seller story in there, if only the speaker would spill what they’re hiding.

Those four words could, at my monthly writer’s gathering, be the prompt for an exercise in creative writing given by our fearless facilitator. No doubt, as an opening line, it would generate a plethora of ideas ranging from comedy to terror, from science fiction to fantasy. We writers would collectively do it justice within minutes.

Envision the scene. The buzz in the crowded room defies a quiet conversation. Someone nearby leans in to hear a friend’s story. Raising her eyebrow, she looks first to the left, then right, and proclaims, “My lips are sealed.” A sudden hush creeps over the assembly as, somehow, the statement has cut through all other conversations. Heads turn. Eyes previously busy scanning the room are now re-focused in her direction. They see the speaker emphasize her promise as she raises one finger to touch her lips. She casts a devious look about, instantly aware of the interest from those who overheard. In spite of the obvious . . . There is nothing more to tell. . . .all await what is to come. In their minds’ eye, “My lips are sealed.” is a beginning, not an end.

I had occasion, not long ago, to express this very thought. I must admit, it was entirely accurate and resulted in immediate action on my part. You see, I am among a growing number of individuals who suffer the effects of sleep apnea. Not the medical issue, mind you – but the solution for it. Every night, after kissing my wife goodnight, I reach for a strap that hangs from my bed post. Connected to a flexible rubber nose-piece, it is attached to a long plastic hose originating at a machine on my nightstand. This machine’s purpose is to pump air into my nasal passages, forcing me to breathe. From time to time, somewhere during the darkness of night, I awake – my mouth drier than a desert sandstorm. Not long ago I awoke with my lips literally sealed shut, my gums stuck to my cheekbones like glue and my throat devoid of any form of liquid.

Scrambling to shut off that awful devise, I stumbled out of bed telling myself (mentally, of course), “My lips are sealed.” No one heard me. No one turned to participate in another juicy story. No one could have heard . . . that is, until I was able to reach a faucet where I silently and carefully pried my lips apart.

So, if you ever hear the words, “My lips are sealed,” I suggest you beware. It’s likely not true.

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